Sheffield United: Big game hunter Brayford relishing battle

Sheffield United's John Brayford and Anthony Martial

Sheffield United's John Brayford and Anthony Martial

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When John Brayford first came to Bramall Lane on loan two years ago, he became involved in an almost miraculous FA Cup run that went all the way to Wembley but sadly faltered at the hands of Hull City in the semi-finals.

After that, on making a permanent move to United a little over a year ago, the full back expressed a wish to be consistently pulling on a red and white shirt for big games, important games with a lot riding on them.

John Brayford says he will relish the big game atmosphere at Bramall Lane today

John Brayford says he will relish the big game atmosphere at Bramall Lane today

In one of those at the end of last season, the play off with Swindon Town, Brayford suffered an injury in the first leg that would keep him out of the team until the end of November.

That comeback, against Barnsley, coincided with a return to form for the Blades as a whole, having suffered the indignity of a 4-2 home defeat to Shrewsbury a few days earlier.

United have lost just once in the league since the 28 year old rejoined the side, with the defender having a stabilising effect and forging an impressive partnership with Paul Coutts down the right side.

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Paul Coutts has formed a strong partnership with Brayford

Paul Coutts has formed a strong partnership with Brayford

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Now we are reaching the point of the season that Brayford thrives on, where every point counts and with fellow promotion challengers Wigan arriving at S2, the former Derby and Cardiff player is in his element.

And although this will be the second time the sides have met this campaign - the other a dramatic 3-3 draw at the DW Stadium in which United came back from 3-0 down - Brayford made the point that it may not be the last they see of each other.

John Brayford in his comenack match against Barnsley

John Brayford in his comenack match against Barnsley

“It’s a big game, it’s good to play your rivals - especially if you can beat them on the day - but they will be up for, just as much as we will be,” he said. “We just have to go into the game being positive.

“It’s a chance for us to lay down a marker, because it’s getting to the nitty-gritty end of the season.

“We know their players, just as much as they will know us. It’s just about who performs on the day.

“You never know, come the end of the season we might meet in the play-offs.”

United go into the game with discontent among sections of the support after some very average performances and the failure by the club to bolster their ranks by Monday’s transfer deadline day.

Brayford recognises that performances could be better and the fact that too many draws have prevented the team from breaking into the top six, however, he is hopeful the fans offer their backing for this visit of Gary Caldwell’s men and for the remainder of the season.

“It would have been nice if we could have taken a few of them draws and turned them into victories, so we could have put a couple more points on the board. But that’s not the case, and we have got to deal with what’s in front of us,” he said.

“That frustration from the fans has probably been there over five years,” added Brayford. “We have got some new lads - I have only been here 12 months permanently - and I know how good the crowd have been in the past.

“It’s great when they stick with us, but they are right to voice their opinion because it costs a lot of money to watch football.”

“We just need to ask them to stay with us through the game, because it gives us, the lads, that extra 10 per cent.”